Sermon: Weeds amongst the wheat by Duurt Sikkens
Today I would like to share some comments with you on a very well known passage of scripture: Matthew 13:24-30. It is a parable, a story that Jesus told.
Let's read it together first.
" Jesus then told them this story:
The kingdom of heaven is like what happened when a farmer scattered good seed in a field. But while everyone was sleeping, an enemy came and scattered weed seeds in the field and then left.
When the plants came up and began to ripen, the farmer's servants could see the weeds. The servants came and asked, “Sir, didn't you scatter good seed in your field? Where did these weeds come from?”
“An enemy did this,” he replied.
His servants then asked, “Do you want us to go out and pull up the weeds?”
“No!” he answered. “You might also pull up the wheat. Leave the weeds alone until harvest time. Then I'll tell my workers to gather the weeds and tie them up and burn them. But I'll have them store the wheat in my barn.”
A parable is simply a story that describes spiritual things in earthly terms. That's all. Spiritual things in pictures we recognise from the visible world around us.
The person who is sowing the seed, the farmer, he represents Jesus. He is the sower. But what about the seed? The seeds are the words of God. And when they take root in your heart they begin to grow and become visible in your life. For example, the contents of the seed "goodness, or compassion" (these are just examples, the seed contains everything), friendliness, sensitivity, these are all characteristics of Jesus and God, and they take shape in your life, they grow and develop and become part of you. If the seed takes root in your heart, then you grow into a child of God.
In Genesis we read about the seed of the woman. Now a woman doesn't have seed, and yet it says there, "the seed of the woman". Here the word 'seed' means offspring, descendants. Descendants of the woman. But to have descendants the woman first has to conceive. And the woman's husband, that's Jesus. And He sows in the field, on the fertile ground. And what IS that fertile ground? That is the hearts of the people, that's where the seed falls. And if it falls into fertile ground it can grow roots and develop.
But then we read that an enemy comes along, while the people are asleep. That is during the night. And the night, that is when the devil likes to operate. He feels comfortable in the darkness. And in the night he sows HIS seed on the field as well.
He sows it OVER the other seed it says in the original Greek text. Works of darkness. And what does he sow over the good seed?
"Sinsania" which is Greek for unnatural or degenerated grass. The rabbis call it degenerated wheat.
So the enemy throws degenerated wheat seeds over the real wheat seeds. Degenerated or unnatural means that it has lost its true nature. So it is no longer pure wheat. The wheat has developed a different nature. It has become a weed.
And the people here in Galilee where Jesus told this story, especially the farmers, all knew that the weed was called Darnel.
Darnel is a well known plant. It causes dizziness, and numbness, and it can also cause madness and is extremely poisonous. You can't eat it and you certainly can't bake bread with it. It is rotten stuff.
So what does this degenerate wheat bring forth? Children of satan.
Does satan have children too? you may ask. Of course he does, because he is the father of lies. But he is still a father.
And when the wheat begins to grow, the real wheat and the darnel, the false wheat, then you can't see the difference. You can't, at first it all looks the same. The darnel looks friendly and loving and patient and whatever other good characteristic you like to name, because otherwise it would be immediately recognisable amongst the good wheat. Now you don't notice it. All nice friendly people.
Jesus' disciples didn't see the difference either. They didn't see that Judas was a child of satan. Satan had planted him there, amongst the twelve. They didn't notice. He just blended in. Only at the last supper, when Jesus was asked. Then he told them. Judas was a child of satan, but Jesus knew that from the beginning, he saw from the start that it was bad seed.
His sense of discernment was very sharp. Once he said to the group (In John chapter 6 verse 70) "one of you is a devil". A devil. Imagine hearing that. So it goes without saying who his father is. But Jesus said no more about it. He didn't say to the others: "I find it so hard to get on with Judas, there's something not right about him". He said nothing like that.
And if Jesus had dug the bad wheat up, if he had sent Judas away saying "You are of no use to me", then the other disciples would have been astonished, and maybe one or two would have left and gone away with Judas. After all that's no way to treat your friends.
And so then good plants would have been pulled up along with the bad plants, and we don't want that.
In John chapter 8 verse 44 Jesus says to the Pharisees: "Your father is the devil. What do you think of that then? They were educated in theology, knew everything about the Bible, knew the books of Moses by heart, and then Jesus tells them: "Your father is the devil. And you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies."
Well you can't speak any plainer than that. A murderer He calls them, and that's right, because they killed Jesus. Once He said to them, 'You are looking for me to kill me'. And they laughed at him. But it happened, and they did kill him, but not only Jesus, many of His disciples died violently too, and other followers of Jesus.
Yes the devil is your father, and the Greek word that is translated as LIE is "pseudo", which means not genuine. So it's very difficult to tell the difference between the real wheat and the bad wheat. The lie. The deceit.
Paul calls it the spirit of deception and misinterpretation, because it is the spirit of the anti Christ - that means against Christ. And not only against, anti also means that he wants to replace him. A rival shall we say. So he wants to have the place that the Christ has in you, gradually, bit by bit, treading softly on tip toe, until he has you. So that the temple will become empty and he can be there.
So it is important to keep your spiritual eyes and ears open, because satan uses the same words as we do. He talks about salvation and happiness and glory and friendliness and discernment.
In 2 John chapter 7 we read something remarkable. Do you know what it says there? "Many deceivers went into the world".
Have you ever seen them? Or heard them? Or are you hard of hearing? It says "many". So do you hear them?
"And" John continues, "they do not acknowledge that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh". Actually in the Greek original text it doesn't say "is come", but "is coming". So think carefully about that. They don't acknowledge that Jesus Christ is coming in the flesh. So that spirit denies that Jesus Christ will come in us.
When people hear the word "return" they immediately picture Jesus on a cloud in the sky, with lights and flashes and goodness knows what else, the weirdest science fiction stories have been told about the return of Jesus.
Jesus will return in us. Quietly, gradually, that's all. And the spirit that denies that and ridicules it, THAT is the spirit of the antichrist. John says it "they do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh", in His people, so in us too. Wonderful
And what do we read about God and Jesus in Revelations: "grace and peace from Him who was, and is, and is to come". He is still to come. God has always had this plan for the salvation of the world. He revealed it through his son Jesus Christ, and he continues to reveal it through his people. So wonderful if your eyes are opened to this truth and you see how it all fits together.
Coming. That's wonderful, and integrated in the Greek original text for this word "coming" or "will come,", is the verb "ergomenon", which is also translated as "coming back". That's something else to think about. The coming back, and how wonderful that we are to be part of this.
Let's go back to the parable.
The farmer's servants ran back to their master, because they saw that the seeds began to grow and bear fruit. And they saw that something wasn't right. They saw it because the fruit started to develop. And that fruit, that is the poison in the false wheat that drives you mad. So when the fruit begins to grow then it also reveals what has been inside all that time. What then????? We'll get to that later.
So they run to their master and they say: "What has happened? The seed you sowed was good, wasn't it? How come there are weeds now, darnel?" And then He says, "well, a bad person did that, my enemy." "Shall we pull them out then?" the disciples ask. "No, don't pull them out, just let it be."
What faith, "do not to try to pull out the darnel, the false wheat, because if you do, then maybe you will trample the good wheat".
Let it be, let it grow, and then its real character will be revealed. As they grow the differences between the good and the bad will become clear. The lie will be seen in the darnel. Think about that: the lie will be seen in the darnel. So what is the lie? What is the big lie? Dear people, if you know what the truth is, then you must also know what the lie is. It is as old as the world, because mankind was deceived with the same lie. "To be as God".
To be as God. Which God? Well, the devil says, with knowledge of good and bad. And that name is not right either, because good and bad don't go together. It is always bad. If I fill a water with clear pure water and put a few drops of chlorine in it, then no one will want to drink it. The whole bucketful is contaminated, has become bad water. Good and bad, good and evil. The tree, the name, that's not right either. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That is not possible. There is no such tree. It is either GOOD or BAD.
Only it is called that because it all looks so good, because the fruit is attractive, acquiring knowledge. Boy, does it look good! Let's have one. And when you've eaten it, you die spiritually. Adam and Eve didn't fall down dead when they ate the fruit, it is all about dying spiritually.
The poison does its work. And the poison, that is sin and death. So that is the great lie, to want to be like God and that's what the darnel wants to be. Like the good wheat, like God.
Did you know that the weeds grow first. Try it. Weeds come up straight away. And the darnel. The darnel grows straight up amongst the wheat. Completely upright. That's a good image I think. It grows out higher than the wheat. What does wheat do when it grows? It forms a big fat ear, and what happens then? It bends. Bows down. And the heaviest ear bends the most. Wonderful picture.
And the darnel just stands there. So if the weeds appear first, then that means the antichrist will also reveal himself first. He wants to show, Paul says, that he is God.
Saying things like, 'do you know who I am? And God is with us. And you can see it in us, and we do great miracles and signs'.
False miracles and signs, Paul says. And nowadays people are so impressed by miracles and signs.
"That's where we need to be", they say. "That's where God's spirit is working". And here we are, just sitting in our little church waiting. Yes, you need discernment for that. Not to go rushing from one place to the next because you think that's where God's spirit is. Miracles draw people in. You want to see the miracles don't you. Be part of it all?
Paul says, it is false man who will be revealed first. What you see now is all show. They say, we are the sons of God that creation is waiting for. We do miracles and signs. But John says, in 1 John 2 verse 19: "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they all are not of us."
So they were not sent away, they left of their own accord. That's called harvesting. The angels do that. Leave that to the angels, they pull the weeds out, without harming the wheat, and they burn the darnel.
Yes, they were not of us, they didn't have the same mind, the same spiritual thoughts. So don't go weeding. Don't send someone away from the church, because children of God may go too, people who don't understand.
Jesus never sent Judas away. But what has happened over the years? The church has been given a lot of power, and that started very early on in history when it was said: the christians should listen to what their leader says. He knows what is good. He has special contact with God and what he says is sacred. It is all written in the first letter of the apostolic fathers. That's when all the evil began.
Exercising power and authority over other people. What does that mean? It means that you want other people to obey you. Do what I say. This power has increased, positions in the hierarchy were created and God's spirit disappeared and this pyramid form has grown gradually over the years. One person at the head, then nothing, then all sorts of important people, then nothing and then - it is really awful - then the ordinary people. Don't read the Bible, your leader will do that. He will explain it to you.
It is awful, and then they start to pull the weeds up. You are no good, nor you. And you should leave too, and you are a heretic. We'll form a court of law, an inquisition, to see if you are pure and correct in the teaching. Many heretics were burned, people were murdered because they sought something good. Murdered, drowned, thousands. A bloody blemish in our history.
The word 'heretic' comes from airesis, which is pronounced “heresies.” And just means a group or division.
Of course lots of people went their own particular way, and they were often persecuted for it, but actually all they wanted was to try and live a pure and correct spiritual life. And they were persecute for doing this. What a bloody time that was. Terrible history. Let's not dwell on these persecutions, though they will come again.
Back to our story. The darnel, the weed, do you see it there amongst the wheat, poking its head above the rest. It wants to rise up above the rest. And that's the whole point. Those who raise themselves up will eventually fall. We read about it in Isaiah 14 verse 13: "For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, ( that's what the devil said, the antichrist) I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; (the stars of God are all the believers)."
We had a vision in our church recently. A beautiful shining crystal in someone's hand, and the hands opened up and the crystals began to float and became stars. That is a beautiful image of us: You are a star in the kingdom of God.
"I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
I will preside on the mountain of the gods
far away in the north.
I will be just like almighty God."
Well THAT is a lie if ever there was one. The darnel rises up.
And now the big question put to us is: Do you want to rise up or come down?
That is the crux of the whole of the gospel. Do you want to rise up like a climbing plant, or do you want to come down like a hanging plant. A hanging plant has roots above and lets its glory be seen under them. That's how the Father reveals himself in people, in Jesus who came down, whilst being rooted in heaven. He had the kingdom of God within him.
And we who have been brought up above, also descend, because we too have our roots in heaven and the kingdom of God within us, because we are called the light of the world. Not the light in heaven. There are so many lights there already. What's important is that the light descends and shines in the world.
So do you want to rise up or descend? Descend as the light from above to the earth. Like the rain. Beautiful song of Moses: "Let my teaching fall on you like drops of rain". The teaching of the kingdom of heaven, so that you can let it be seen on earth and then you can also reveal God's humbleness. Jesus says it as well. Learn from me, be gentle and humble like me, as I am like my Father. Then you can show God's humbleness, his gentleness. You can manifest all this in Christ on earth.
Will you think about this?
Prayer: Father, teach us to be gentle like you, and teach us to believe what you believe. You believe in ordinary people, and you are going to build your kingdom in them. Give us spiritual insight into these truths. Help us to keep everything in perspective by focussing only on You and Your wonderful kingdom.